Five years ago …
The Clippers were involved in Donald Sterling's scandal. There was talk of players who boycotted. The whole franchise looked poisonous.
The nets have been in pain for years. They had exchanged for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce several future picks in the first round, which were immediately rejected and left the team in the basement. Brooklyn looked hopeless.
Suddenly, the Clippers and Nets are the NBA's freshest forces after big out-of-season coups. Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers, persuading Paul George to request a deal to accompany him. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined Brooklyn through a freelance agency.
This level of star clustering in a single summer is unprecedented.
One team has only added three reigning All-NBA players in the same offseason:
- 2019 Nets: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
- 2014 Cavaliers: LeBron James and Kevin Love
In 2014, LeBron returned to Cleveland throwing Love on the pitch. The Cavs exchanged their assurance of love that he would sign again the following year.
The stories look similar this year in LA and Brooklyn.
Leonard wanted to return to his native Southern California, and he got George – another California native – to come along. Durant may reject the idea he has set, but playing near New Jersey is a homecoming for Irving. It seems Durant has priority to play somewhere with Irving.
The big difference between this year's situation and the Cavaliers in 2014: No established star drew Leonard, George, Durant and Irving into their new teams. Cleveland had Irving as a draw for LeBron and finally for Love.
The Clippers had no stars. The nets did not have an all-star until D & # 39; Angelo Russell was appointed to replace an injury, and they did not arrest him when they landed Durant and Irving. (Russell was sent to the warriors in a double sign-and-trade.)
That's another way in which these situations are unprecedented.
Only eight teams have joined several reigning All-Stars since the NBA ABA in the same offseason merger. The previous six already had a reigning star who helped build the appeal:
* The Celtics were traded Thomas for Irving, but Thomas was instrumental in Hayward's recruitment.
** Pierce was not an All-Star in 2007 due to an early injury, but he was an all-star in the five previous and next five seasons, and later played in the 2006-07 season as one while she was healthy. Not counting him as a star in 2007 would only be technically true.
But Leonard and George decided to be the stars on the Clippers. Durant and Irving were the stars of the nets. They did not follow anyone who was already there.
This is an unintended consequence of the shorter contracts that the owners were pushing. They give players more opportunities to change teams and appreciate new situations like these. This is also a continuation of LeBron's exercise of power by first joining Wade and Bosh on the Heat, then closing his Miami business and forming a new super team in Cleveland.
Maybe it can not happen anywhere. It is no coincidence that Clippers and Nets perform in the two largest markets.
The Lakers and Knicks are, however, still the most prestigious franchises in Los Angeles and New York. The Clippers on Nets have not even won a playoff series or been the first to get a star to attract others.
It's a new era in the NBA – an era when high-level talent is ready to come together and hold their own.
Wherever can be.